Why Bicycling Belongs In The West TSA
WHY BICYCLING SHOULD BE ALLOWED IN THE WEST TSA
Mountain biking strongly contributes to Boulder's community, brand, economy, conservation ethic, and open space programs. Yet at the present time no bicycling is allowed in the West TSA. The cycling community requests a trail from Baseline Road to Eldorado Springs Road and other short routes. Here we briefly address central reasons why this should happen.
Bicycling is a legally legitimate use on Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks. Mountain biking is a well-established outdoor activity that is fun, healthy, and promotes a love of the outdoors. Large numbers of Boulder residents enjoy mountain biking. Everyone who works, eats or shops in Boulder pays for sales-tax funded OSMP.
Compared to other outdoor recreation forms, Boulder's mountain biking opportunities are very limited in both quantity and quality. Most mountain bikers find they must drive well beyond city limits. OSMP's Visitor Mater Plan identifies mountain biking as underserved and calls for enhanced riding opportunities west of Broadway.
Science shows bicycling causes no more environmental degradation that hiking. User conflict is manageable and there is enough land to accommodate bicycling. So bikes belong. We need more spirit of tolerance and sharing.
Some people want to exclude bikes. While that may be, they have no right to totally exclude other legitimate users. The cycling community is NOT requesting complete access. The vast majority of trails will remain hiking-only.
2. Constituency for Conservation
Constituency does matter in a democracy. Boulder needs to ensure and strengthen long-term support for open space. However, a recent study[i] found that "all major lines of evidence point to an ongoing and fundamental shift away from nature-based recreation," particularly among young people. The author's studies show "a steady decline in nature recreation since the late 1980s correlated strongly with a rise in playing video games, surfing the Internet and watching movies." The provided evidence directly correlating nature experience with support for conservation organizations. Similarly, Richard Louv, who wrote "No Child Left Behind," warned of ..."a rapid disengagement between children and direct experiences in nature...this has profound implications, not only for the health of future generations but for the health of the Earth itself."
Mountain biking offers excitement that can compete with what those researchers call "videophilia." It's a gateway activity for kids to experience nature and develop a conservation ethic.
Bicyclists have been enthusiastic volunteers for public lands. The bicycling community wants to help but is being pushed away. Opening a small part of the West TSA to bicycling will create future generations of Open Space supporters and stewards, great partners for preservation.
3. Business and the city's image
Boulder has a large, vital, outdoor recreation industry with an international reputation. Boulder's open space is a key factor for area businesses to locate here and to attract and retain quality employees. The total ban on bikes around the Flatirons harms the image of Boulder and makes it more difficult for businesses to recruit top talent. Boulder should show it embraces all forms of muscle-powered outdoor recreation.
4. Healthy, eco-friendly connections close to home
Mountain bikers often want to ride from home and not use a car. Yes, they can use paved paths to get to the far-south trails that are currently open to bikes, but this is uninviting and requires significant time they would rather spend on dirt (just like hikers prefer dirt trails over paved paths). Boulder needs a trail connection accessible from the center of town.
Mountain biking promotes health through vigorous exercise and connection to nature. In this day of widespread obesity, governments should embrace health-inducing activities.
The bicycling community has strong knowledge of trail design and construction. We wish to contribute to the sustainability of the trails system, if welcomed.
5. Opposition arguments invalid
Old arguments about safety, environmental impact, trail erosion, manageability, and appropriateness are either wrong, weak, or unwise. In a companion document[ii] we refute the arguments of those opposed.
Providing the limited access requested is only fair and is critical for our future.
[i] Patricia A. Zaradic, Oliver R. W. Pergams, and Peter Kareiva, "The Impact of Nature Experience on Willingness to Support Conservation," PLoS One, Vol. 4, e7367 (1009)